Bucharest 9: Looking for Cooperation on the Eastern NATO Flank?

On July 3rd the Representation of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation together with the Foreign Policy Council Ukrainian Prism presented the results of the analytical paper on “Bucharest 9: Looking for Cooperation on the Eastern NATO flank?”. At the round table, leading experts from Ukraine and Romania had the opportunity to discuss the current agenda of the Bucharest Nine (shortly, B9) as well as possible prospects of Ukraine’s cooperation with the B9 in security policy.

The Bucharest Nine brings together nine NATO members located on the eastern flank of the alliance. It was founded in 2015 by Romania and Poland. Ukraine is currently not a member of the format but is seeking for opportunities to widen its security cooperation.

The B9 countries have a similar understanding of security threats and are willing to invest more in defense. Sergiy Gerasymchuk, Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Policy Council Ukrainian Prism stated that some of the B9 countries strive to increase their military budget to the level that will extend 2,5% of GDP. For the remaining member states on the other hand, even the benchmark of 2% of GDP seems unrealistic in a short-time perspective. Cooperation with the like-minded B9 countries extends Ukraine’s cooperation with NATO and may provide Kyiv with additional bargaining leverage on the EU and the US, the paper assesses.

Among the speakers was also Dr. Iulian Fota, Head of the National Intelligence College in Bucharest. He considers NATO to be the most important intergovernmental military alliance. In his opinion, Russia presents for Romania a very strong danger, but not the only, as there are also other threats originating from the south. Besides, Romania is also concerned with China’s growing political influence. Fota emphasized that the B9 is a format within NATO, and thus intended to complement the security structure of the latter. Fota doubted the efficiency of multilateral cooperation and instead advised Ukrainian policymakers to focus on the development of bilateral relations with the B9 countries.

Taras Zhovtenko, Director of the Center for Analysis and Information “West-East”, called for a more dynamic and diverse security architecture within the NATO to face recent threats like hybrid warfare adequately. B9 may provide the necessary flexibility as a sub-regional platform by facilitating cross-coordination among its members. Valery Kravchenko, Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Strategic Studies in Kyiv, concluded, the B9 provided a promising and an interesting format for Ukraine to attract international support which may enhance multilateral coordination related to security issues in the region. However, allies need to demonstrate more willingness for consolidation in the long-term. He also discussed an opportunity of deepening military and defense cooperation with the Bucharest 9 via establishing a sub-regional platform, consisting of aspiring countries like Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia.

The text of the paper is available here: (UA), (ENG).

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